Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We Learn More About Kirtland Kelsey Cutter...

Last  week, we learned of the rise of a prominent architect in Spokane named Kirtland Cutter and his rise in fame.  We also learned about his marriage to a Spokane-area rich man’s daughter, their continued success, subsequent divorce and devastating results that fell on Cutter. 

This week we will continue to read more about this interesting character and how he fared in early Spokane. 

Cutter’s most prosperous years began around 1897 and lasted into the early 1900s.  During those years he was the architect of choice for many of the wealthy Spokane families.  He designed the majority of the mansions directly below the rim of the Manito plateau (“The Hill”), which were some of his first major commissions.

Cutter experienced some difficult times after his divorce from Mary Corbin.  Because of his high profile, on September 4, 1907, the Spokesman Review gave a detailed account of an embarrassing incident that took place shortly after he married his second wife, Katherine Phillips Williams.



Jack Williams Applies Boot to Kirtland K. Cutter.

Kirtland K. Cutter, society man and architect, whose reputation is national, was kicked from a Manito park car last Thursday evening by “Jack” Williams, society man and former secretary of the Sullivan Mining Company, who now has offices with former Judge George Turner in the Fernwell building.  Mr. Cutter received the kick as he was descending the steps of the car at Sixth avenue and Washington street, but he landed on his feet when he struck the ground, and after picking up his hat, which fell in the mud, due to his hurried flight, he hastened on his way home without glancing back or making any remarks to his assailant.


On account of the social prominence of the two men the occurrence has caused much talk among the members of the Spokane club and Country club.


Mr. Cutter is married to Mr. Williams’ divorced wife, the wedding taking place soon after the divorce was granted [10 days] … According to the chronicle of those who saw the melee, it occurred on a Manito park-bound car at 5:40 o’clock last Thursday afternoon.  The car was crowded with home-going residents of the hillside and Manito park neighborhoods.  Because of the crowded condition of the car and the fact that Mr. Cutter kept going after the kick had been administered most of those on the car were not aware of what had happened.  “The first that I knew that trouble had broken out between the erstwhile friends, Cutter and Williams, was when I heard Mr. Williams say ‘You _ _ _ _, get off the car,’ said a wealthy resident of the hill, who was just in the rear of Mr. Williams.


“Then”, said the spectator, “Mr. Cutter’s hat shot into the air.  He followed the hat from the car, never said a word, and ignored the little mishap…. The affair occurred at Sixth avenue and Washington street.  It was raining cats and dogs.  Cutter thumped his umbrella into position first and then gathered his hat from the mud.  He went up Sixth avenue in the direction of his home.


“The affair occurred so quickly that I did not comprehend at the time that a kick had been delivered.  Mr. Williams was standing in a crowd on the rear platform of the car and Mr. Cutter had been inside the car”….Another friend of Mr. Williams said: “…Jack told me he had been waiting for a chance to plug Cutter for some time, and this was the first opportunity he had to deliver the chastisement.”


Cutter continued to practice architecture in Spokane until 1923.  Although at time his practice extended to other states, most of his work was accomplished in Spokane.   When the big money poured into the city in the late 1800s and the wealthy built their elegant mansions, Cutter was able to command substantial prices for his services.  As the demand for these mansions slowed, Cutter found himself in an extremely competitive position.  The bottom was falling out of his upscale market and the competition was meeting the demand for more affordable house plans.  By the time Cutter left Spokane in 1923, his practice had declined.  He went in search of a market compatible with his talents, which he found in Long Beach, California.  Kirtland Kelsey Cutter practiced architecture until his death on September 26, 1939, in Long Beach, California, at the age of 79.  Cutter has one remaining blood relative, his grandson, Joe Corbin, whose birth name was also Corbin Corbin.  Joe Corbin was born July 26, 1926, and presently resides in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spokane Burns on August 4, 1889!

Last week, we learned about several prominent architects who designed many of the buildings in the business district, as well as many of the upscale homes in the areas around town.  Today, we learn about an event that just about ruined Spokane’s downtown district in 1889.

Spokane experienced a devastating fire on August 4, 1889.  The fire decimated most of the downtown business district, consuming 25 square blocks and destroying 60 brick and stone buildings.  The fire created an opportunity for Cutter’s architecture practice to flourish (along with everyone else’s involved in the reconstruction of Spokane). 

 A previous fire, which occurred in 1883, also affected the future of Spokane’s architecture.  It signaled a need for brick construction.  In his book Spokane and the Inland Empire, Nelson Durham states:

The first considerable fire which left its mark in Spokane startled the city on the night of January 19, 1883.  The conflagration broke out on the coldest night of the winter, in the store of F.R. Moore & Co., and as there was no fire department, the space between Front street and the alley south, comprising F.R. Moore & Co.’s store, Charlie Carson’s restaurant, Forrest’s grocery, Porter’s drugstore and the postoffice [sic], was completely leveled, and Rima’s jewelry store across the alley was torn down to arrest the flames.  It was a heavy loss and could ill afford to be borne, but the losers had resolved almost before the ashes had cooled down, to rebuild with brick.  The year 1883 was thus signalized by a new impetus in building.

Fortunately, only one life was lost in the Great Fire of 1889 – a civil engineer by the name of George Davis.  In terms of lives lost to fires in Spokane, two others hold that record.  In 1892, four men were killed during a fire on Havermale Island.  Six businesses and four houses were also destroyed.  The worst fire on record, for lives lost, occurred January 26, 1898, when the Great Eastern Block burned, killing nine people.  The five story brick building, located at the southeast corner of Riverside and Post, was one of the first business blocks in Spokane.  Following the fire, it was rebuilt as the Peyton Building.  Slight traces of fire damage can still be seen on portions of the building.

When Cutter began his business as an architect, he formed a partnership with John Poetz, who had been educated in structural design and construction management.  Poetz left the firm in 1894 and was replaced by Karl Gunnar Malmgren, who had trained as an architect in his native Sweden.  The Cutter-Malmgren partnership lasted for almost 30 years.  To a great extent, Cutter produced the ideas and Malmgren engineered the plans.  Although the firm often employed other draftsmen, Malmgren was its key engineer.

Cutter’s marriage to the daughter of one of Spokane’s richest and most influential business tycoons appears to have boosted his career.  On October 5, 1892, Kirtland Cutter wed Mary Edwine Corbin, daughter of Daniel C. Corbin.  Following a trip to France in 1898, the marriage ended in divorce.  In the divorce decree Kirtland alleged his wife refused to return to the United States with him; Mary alleged she was sick and unable to travel, and that he left her in France with no means of support.  During the marriage they had a child, Kirtland Corbin Cutter.  A strained relationship between D.C. Corbin and Kirtland Cutter resulted from the divorce.  Corbin was instrumental in keeping Cutter’s son from him, and insisted his grandson’s name be changed from Kirtland Corbin Cutter to Corbin Corbin.  In one of the provisions of Cutter’s will, he states, “I make no provision in this my last Will and Testament for my son, Corbin Corbin, for the reason that his Grandfather, the late D.C. Corbin of Spokane, Washington, in his Will made suitable provision for him on the stipulated condition that his surname be changed to ‘Corbin’.”

Next week we will hear more about this interesting character Kirtland Cutter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Soon-to-be Famous Architects Begin Work in Spokane

The upscale areas of early Spokane, especially during the “Age of Elegance”, were designed with a strong European influence.  Both of Spokane’s earliest and most prominent architects came from Germany.  Herman Preusse was born in Germany in 1847.  When he was three years old, his father died and his mother married one of Germany’s leading architects.  Under his influence, Preusse received one of the finest architectural educations in Germany.  Combined with the practical experience received in his stepfather’s office, he gained early recognition as one of Germany’s upcoming young architects.

Realizing the opportunities in America, a young and booming nation, Preusse moved to New York in 1870.  Following a number of successful career moves in the United States, he settled in Spokane Falls in 1882.  Preusse hired Julius Zittel upon Zittel’s arrival in 1887.  Zittel was only 18 years of age, but within six years, his ability led to a partnership with Preusse.    The partnership lasted for 18 years.  They designed and supervised some of Spokane’s finest buildings, including Gonzaga College, St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Carnegie Library, and the Auditorium Theatre.  [The Auditorium Theatre, located at the northwest corner of Post and Main, boasted the largest stage in the world upon completion in 1890.  The list of attendees at the opening production read like a “Who’s Who” in Spokane.]  Herman Preusse was Spokane’s first professional architect, and only one of four architects listed in the 1888 Spokane Falls directory.  By 1906 there were over 40 architects listed.  Some of the most prominent were to design houses for the newly-developing Manito area.

Kirtland K. Cutter, Spokane’s famous architect, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1860.  His father, a banker with the Merchant’s National Bank of Cleveland, provided young Cutter with a comfortable lifestyle.  However, he was greatly influenced by his great grandfather, Professor Jared Kirtland, while living at Kirtland’s country estate.  A well-connected and respected naturalist, Kirtland socialized with many of the nation’s notable people.  This period of Cutter’s life appears to have given him a high degree of sophistication and confidence.  Cutter studied painting and sculpture at the Art Students League in New York.

He then spent several years traveling and studying in Europe.  Upon his return to the United States, his uncle, Horace Cutter, a banker in Spokane Falls, convinced the younger Cutter to join him there.  It does not appear that Cutter’s training included any formal education in the field of architecture, but he had an ability to visualize beautiful designs and transfer them to paper.  He was a talented illustrator and, through his travels, had been exposed to a wide variety of architectural designs, which he amalgamated into his own unique style.  His enthusiasm, charming sophistication, and connections to wealthy and influential individuals (associations made primarily through his Uncle Horace) would become contributing factors to his eventual international fame. 

Next week we will learn of the big Spokane Fire of 1889.  Click back and we’ll learn even some more about this great town of ours as well as our beloved Manito Park itself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ads For Manito Housing Lots Continue..

We have been exploring stories about the founding of Spokane as a city as well as the building and populating of the Manito Park neighborhood.  Last week we looked at Fred Grinnell, a real estate broker in Spokane and the ads he had been placing in the newspaper telling of the wonderful opportunities to build houses surrounding Manito Park.  This week, we will see more of those ads and learn a little more about the neighborhood. 

All of the information reported here comes from a book by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte entitled, “Manito Park:  A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”.  You can learn more about this book at www.tornadocreekpublications.com.  

More articles or advertisements appeared in the Spokesman-Review of July 14, 1907:



Read this extract from an article in the Spokesman-Review of July 14, 1907:

“It is the natural tendency of residence districts to seek the highest points overlooking the city.  There is also a rugged picturesqueness embodied in the boulders and pine trees in much of the South Hill property that appeals to the homebuilder.  Then there is an unevenness in the lay of the ground which gives variety and puts most of the lots above street grades, which is an attractive feature.  These are some of the “characteristics” of South Side additions on the hill which probably cause the property to command higher prices than in most North Side Additions.”


Manito stands in a class by itself as a high class residence district!
There are many reasons

FIRST – Manito is naturally the choice residence section, being built on the South Side, above the city and the railroads and commanding a magnificent view.  These are qualities which make the finest residence districts in all cities.

SECOND – The building restrictions have been enforced and none but nice residences have been erected.

THIRD – The owners of Manito Addition have spared no expense in the matter of improvements and today Manito is ahead of many districts not as far out, having good streets, cement sidewalks and city water.

FOURTH – Purchasers of Manito lots have been treated right.  No unfair advantages have been taken and they have been given more for their money than buyers in any other part of the city.

Manito has grown faster than any section of the city and more money has been spent there than in any other one section.  All of the houses at Manito are new.  Wouldn’t you rather build in such a section than where the development has reached its height?



Spokane Is No Exception To The Rule

The history of all cities in this and other countries is that the finest residence districts ultimately seek the higher levels.  In Spokane the highest level is MANITO.

It is the natural outcome of the development of any city of any size for the best residence district to be up on the hill sections.  The railroads, the business houses and manufactories must of necessity be located on the lower levels and as time goes on and a city develops the “one-time” best residences give place to business houses.  Every resident of Spokane has implicit faith in the development of the city and believes that within a few years it will be one of the important cities of the country.  When that belief has been fulfilled where will the choice residence section be?  Being elevated 350 feet above Howard and Riverside Manito benefits by the prevailing, warm southwesterly winds and is entirely free from the winter fogs and dampness experienced at intervals in the lower districts of the city. 
Next week , we will learn about two prominent architects  who settled in and designed many prestigious homes and buildings in growing Spokane.  Be sure to click over to www.ManitoPark.org or www.ManitoParkOrg.blogspot.com for the next chapter.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Home Sites Begin To Sell Around Manito Park...

The economy was healthy in 1907, but most importantly, Manito Park was ready to receive its neighborhood. To describe the building atmosphere around Manito Park, the following is a sampling of Grinnell's 1907 advertising campaign taken from various issues of the Spokesman Review:




No section of the city, aside from the business section, is contributing so much toward the development of a Greater Spokane as the Manito residence section. This statement is not based on our opinions nor on the opinion of any person, but it is based on facts and figures which cannot be disputed. Figures sometimes lie, or at least can be made to deceive, but facts prove the statement.


Some Facts about Manito

10 miles of cement sidewalks.

62 houses now under construction.

1600 shade trees planted along the streets.

$35,000 spent in the public park

12 miles of graded street.

207 houses completed in 3 years.

7 miles of water mains laid.

Several miles of gas mains laid.




The Way Is Made Easy For You

You will never have a better opportunity to secure a home site than today. We

Let you name your own terms, and Manito property is selling at the present                                             

time below its actual value. Only a small cash payment required and you can tell us how you want to pay the balance.


No Other District but Manito Is Free from the Railroad Danger 

We Now Have an Automobile in Which to Show You Around

The Manito residence section is known as one of the most desirable residence sections in the city.



Of Home Site Is Not Found Elsewhere


In no other part of the city are there such beautiful surroundings as at Manito. The principal  park of the city, consisting of 95 acres; the Country Club, which  has beautiful grounds and buildings; Manito boulevard,  which is to be the show street of the city; the campus and buildings of the new Spokane College [on 29th Avenue near Grand Boulevard] and the new Rosedale boulevard , which is soon to be constructed, all surround Manito.


In addition to the beautiful surroundings, the building restrictions assure the Manito residence section will always be beautiful. Then, too, no railroads can ever reach Manito. It is way above them. Manito is favored with everything that could be desired for a residence section.



At Manito Park Tonight

You will find a free moving picture exhibition. Every night, Sunday excepted, there is a free moving picture exhibition in the park. There is also a free lecture, illustrated by the stereopticon, which is not only entertaining but highly instructive.



Manito is the Coolest Spot in Town

Come out this evening and enjoy the free moving picture exhibition between 8 and 9 o'clock.  It is delightfully cool and you will have an enjoyable time.


Every day now is a picnic day at Manito. Take a trip to Manito any evening about 6 o'clock and in the park you will find from 50 to 100 or more families eating their suppers in the coo l, open air; the coolest spot in Spokane; from 10 to 15 degrees cooler than it is in the downtown districts. If your home is in the Manito district you do not need to go to the mountains for the summer.  You have the mountain air at your home.


For Soil for Their Flowers The Ladies Go To Manito

Some of the richest and blackest soil in the city is to be found at Manito. It is the kind of soil that makes it easy for you to have a beautiful yard; combined with the soil are the artistic boulders and fine pines, all of which are making the South Side Hill section the most beautiful residence section.


Inferior or Superior Quality

Which Do You Want in Your Home Site Providing It Is Just as Easy to Secure One as the Other?

We believe that you want a home site which has superior qualities; one that is located in a part of the city which will never have any but fine residences; a home site that will grow in value as the city develops; a home site that contains the artistic features that will make it desirable; a home site located in that section of the city which contain s more public improvements than any other part-- in short--   the kind of home site you find at MANITO.


Not a commonplace section , but a section where the homes of all are up to the high standard for which  better residence sections  of  Spokane  have  become  noted .  A section where improvements precede the erection of the homes.


Next week, we will explore more of the newspaper advertising Mr. Grinnell used to attract future home owners to his new Manito Park Neighborhood.